The Department of Community Development administered the City's comprehensive plan and provided direction and support for the City's physical and economic development through community planning. DCD was established in 1969 and assumed the responsibilities of the City Planning Commission and the Urban Renewal Program. In 1972, the Office of Economic Development was created in the Department to provide information to businesses that were expanding or relocating in Seattle. DCD was the lead agency for implementing various types of grant funded projects, such as Neighborhood Improvement Program, Targeted Neighborhood Assistance Program, and Neighborhood Development Program. DCD was abolished in 1992 and its programs were relocated in the Department of Neighborhoods, Department of Housing and Human Services, Planning Department, and other agencies. DCD records include material from the City Planning Commission, Zoning Commission, Metropolitan Arts Commission, Board of Adjustment, and Urban Renewal Program.
Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market was a city-sponsored experiment to help reduce the high cost of local produce. It was created as a means for local farmers to sell directly to shoppers, without benefit of middlemen who were suspected of inflating prices. An immediate success, it thereafter became a permanent fixture in the vicinity of Pike Place and First Avenue.
The two original ordinances passed regarding the Market effectively determined its method of operation. In the establishing ordinance, the City vested direct responsibility in the Street Department, which painted stall spaces on the planked street surface of Pike Place and assigned a police officer to allot spaces. A second ordinance passed in November 1907 instituted one of the basic rules of market operations. It required that sales in the market be limited to food and food products "raised, produced or manufactured by the person offering the same for sale."
As the Market grew some changes were made to accommodate the farmer/sellers. In 1911 for example the City constructed sheds in the sidewalk right-of-way on Pike Place as an "inside" market for "dry stall" sellers, i.e. sellers who did not need to sprinkle or wash their goods.
The success of the public market attracted private investment and a number of new buildings were constructed between 1907 and 1927. Several privately sponsored markets and related businesses also opened during this period and competition began to develop for the farmers' loyalties.
A shift in the location of the farmers' carts in 1923 from the public street to a privately-owned arcade along the street became a defining moment in the history of the Market. The City's right to space in the market was challenged. From that point on, by mutual agreement, the City leased the privately-owned arcade and rented it on a daily basis to farmers.
In the first two decades of its existence, farmers sold a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and dairy products. They also sold meat and poultry, which by ordinance had to be butchered and dressed off the premises. Fish, home-preserved pickles and relishes, baked goods, and flowers were also staples of the market. By 1925 more than 600 farmer/sellers were regularly selling on weekends and the number of shoppers averaged 25,000 on weekdays and 50,000 on Saturdays. The Market continued to flourish through the decade of the thirties despite the Great Depression.
From its beginning, the Market's atmosphere as a cultural crossroads substantially contributed to its success and resilience. The mix of shoppers (local, national, international, and from every socioeconomic level) helped create this ambiance. Also contributing heavily to the multicultural atmosphere, at least initially, was the racial and ethnic diversity of the farmers. Many were immigrants who tended to settle in enclaves and engaged in similar agricultural pursuits. For example, most Japanese farmers lived in the Kent Valley and owned truck farms and fruit orchards. Italian farmers concentrated in Georgetown and South Park where they cultivated vegetables. Scandinavian ranchers settled on the Olympic Peninsula and in Island communities. They raised cows and chickens and sold poultry, eggs, milk and butter in the Market.
After World War II, the economics of local farming changed. Factors contributing to this change included mechanization, home refrigeration, expansion of the frozen food industry, and an improved highway system (which encouraged long-haul trucking). By 1957 the Market was in steep decline, operating with less than 60 licensed farmers. Decreased public transit service to the area, proliferation of supermarket chains, and suburban real estate development contributed to a steady decline in shoppers.
Located on prime real estate at the western edge of Seattle's central business district overlooking Elliott Bay, properties continued to appreciate in assessed value despite their condition. Eighty percent of the buildings in the Market district dated from the 1930s or earlier and displayed visible signs of deterioration. Properties damaged by fire or earthquakes were left vacant or only partially rehabilitated. Landlords had little incentive to make needed improvements to their buildings. Lending institutions were reluctant to make substantial loans for rehabilitation or new development, fearing that any new project would be surrounded by blight. With little or no maintenance, many buildings slipped below the standards established in local building and health codes.
Areas adjacent to the Market also changed markedly. Panhandlers and alcoholics became a significant presence on the streets. Prostitution flourished, with hotels in the vicinity catering to this trade. Vendors of pornographic literature, second-hand stores, and thrift shops contributed to the general atmosphere of decline.
Development Proposals in the 1950s
The economic and physical deterioration of the Market spurred several development proposals. The most detailed was one developed by Harlan H. Edwards in 1950. A consulting engineer and member of the City Planning Commission, he proposed assembling property between Pike and Stewart. The project would consist of a 2,000 car garage below the level of First Avenue with a city park constructed on the top deck. A farmers market would be housed on the two decks below the park.
All such proposals foundered when property assembly was attempted. Divergent property ownership and resale restrictions made this aspect of any project too difficult to sustain developer interest.
Urban Renewal Proposal
After decades of decline and neglect, the Pike Place marketing district was a blighted area scheduled for demolition and redevelopment. As early as 1964, a citizen's group known as Friends of the Market had organized to save it. Only the City of Seattle had authority (under its urban renewal powers) to condemn, prepare a redevelopment plan, replat with new streets and other utilities, and make the property available for private redevelopment.
In 1965 the City Council authorized application for urban renewal funds. Four years later, the City had completed an urban renewal plan for the Pike Place Project which called for the rehabilitation of a 1.7-acre market core within an overall 22-acre project. The Department of Community Development (DCD) was formed to take the lead responsibility in planning this project.
Community Activism and Rehabilitation
Market supporters mounted a strong campaign of opposition to razing and developing the land. Friends of the Market collected 53,000 signatures for an initiative to save the market which would create "...a Pike Place Market historical district and a market Historical Commission with the purpose of preserving, restoring and improving buildings and continuance of uses within said district, and providing that no structure within said district shall be erected, altered, extended, reconstructed, used or occupied except pursuant to a Certificate of Approval authorized by the commission..."
City Council refused to accept the measure and chose instead to put it on the November 1971 ballot. A second group, the Alliance for a Living Market, emerged to help pass the ballot measure. Voters passed the initiative to save the market by 60 % and overturned the urban renewal plan.
The initiative set aside a 7-acre Historical District in the heart of the 22-acre urban renewal project area. It also established a twelve-member Historical Commission to oversee all development and uses within the district.
The DCD set aside the original plan and started over. One of its first acts was to create the DCD Pike Project office in the Spring of 1972. The DCD Pike Project had primary responsibility for developing a new urban renewal plan for the Pike Place marketing district, and administering and managing its implementation. In June 1973, the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) was chartered by the City of Seattle to "undertake the renewal, rehabilitation, preservation, restoration and development of structures and open space in the Pike Place Historical District and surrounding areas in a manner that affords a continuing opportunity for Market farmers, merchants, residents, shoppers and visitors to carry on in their traditional activities."
A Memorandum of Understanding executed in 1975 between the PDA and the DCD specifically delineated the responsibilities of each agency. In particular, it assigned to the PDA the rehabilitation responsibility for the Livingston/Baker, Soames/Dunn Seed, Triangle, Corner Market and Main Market buildings in the historical district.
The PDA continues its activities, serving as landlord and manager for 80 percent of the properties within the Market Historical District. The DCD Pike Project Office, however, ceased operations in 1980. The Department of Community Development completed the Pike Place Market "Promenade 23 Project" in 1982 and continued to oversee fiscal matters until the Department was abolished in 1992.
The Pike Place Market Records pertain to the 22-acre federally assisted urban renewal project bounded by First Avenue on the east, Alaskan Way viaduct on the west and Lenora and Union streets on the north and south. It is an artificial collection that was accumulated by the City of Seattle Law Department as part of its legal preparation for the 1990 lawsuit, City v. Cliffhouse Associates, et al. The Law Department transferred the collection to the Seattle Municipal Archives in 1994.
The collection is divided into two records sub-groups. The first is the Pike Place Market Records (Record Series 1628-01), consisting of textual records; these records are described in the Pike Place Market Records finding aid. The second sub-group is the Pike Place Market Visual Images and Audio Collection (Record Series 1628-02), consisting of photographic prints and slides. This sub-group is described in this finding aid.
Many of the photographs are available in the online photograph database; selected photographs are available as high-resolution images.
Restrictions on Access :
Records are open to the public.Restrictions on Use :
Copyright Note: The vast majority of photographic images in this collection are the property of the City of Seattle and are in the public domain. However, the copyright on some photographs and slides may rest with other institutions or individuals. The City assumes no responsibility for locating copyright. Obtaining permission for the use of copyrighted images is solely the responsibility of the user.Preferred Citation :
[Title of image, date. Item number.] Pike Place Market Visual Images and Audiotapes, Record Series 1628-02. Box [number], Folder [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.
The Pike Place Market photographs and slides are part of the Seattle Municipal Archives' photograph collection and are housed in boxes 162 to 176 of this collection.
Collection materials are arranged in two series:
Series I: Photographs
Series II: Slides
Custodial History :
The images contained in this collection came from a variety of sources, including the King County Assessor's Collection at the Puget Sound Branch of the State Archives, the Desimone Family, amateur photographers, project staff, and photographers with whom the Project Office contracted to document the Market.Related Materials :
Additional materials relating to the Pike Place Market urban renewal project can be found in two collections in the Manuscripts & University Archives division of the University Libraries at the University of Washington.
The Victor Steinbrueck Papers, particularly the first accession, document his role in organizing the Friends of the Market, as well as his leadership of the "save the market" ballot initiative. The Friends of the Market Records, donated by the organization, documents this grass roots movement's activities in the struggle to preserve the Market. This collection totals 4.4 cubic feet and spans the period 1963 to 1971.
In addition, records relating to the Market can be found in various records series in the Seattle Municipal Archives. These include the records of City Council members, Mayors, the Engineering Department, and the Department of Community Development.Bibliography :
View a bibliography of important materials relating to Pike Place Market.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
2.6 cubic ft. ( (10 boxes, 2565 images))
The Pike Place Market photographs were compiled to document the history and redevelopment of the project area. The images were accumulated in several different ways. Historical photographs were gathered from several sources including the King County Assessor's Collection at the Puget Sound Branch of the State Archives and the Desimone Family. Contemporary images were gathered from amateur photographers and project staff who documented various aspects of the Market and the project. A 1972 visual survey of building interior and exterior conditions in the historic district was conducted prior to initiating the rehabilitation work. In addition, the Project Office contracted with several photographers to document specific activities or physical elements of the Market.
The Pike Place Market photographs are organized in three distinct sections. The first is organized by individual property or parcel and contains historical and contemporary photographs, including the 1972 survey images. The second grouping was part of the Department of Community Development's acquisition request records. These photographs were taken in 1967 and are a nearly complete exterior survey of the Market neighborhood. The final grouping is organized by subject or Market activity and includes both historical and contemporary photographs.
1.8 cubic ft. ( (5 boxes, 4523 images))
Over 4500 slides of the Pike Place Market primarily document conditions of the structures within the project boundaries before, during, and after rehabilitation and construction. Also included are slides of Market activities, events, and celebrations, and images from public markets and urban renewal projects throughout the United States.
The slides are arranged according to an organizational scheme devised by the project staff.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.